US-led coalition's support to form new Syrian force angering Turkey
The U.S.-led coalition is working with its Syrian militia allies to set up a new border force of 30,000 personnel, the coalition said on Sunday, a move that has added to Turkish anger over U.S. support for PKK/PYD in Syria.
The U.S.-led coalition confirmed reports on Saturday that it will establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the People's Protection Units (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria, a move that has already angered Turkey.
The coalition named the "new" army the Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). About 15,000 of the fighters will be SDF veterans as the fight against Daesh comes to a close. Another 15,000 will be recruited and trained in the near future. Currently, 230 individuals are training in the inaugural class, according to the coalition statement.
The coalition said the ethnic composition of the new border force would be relative to the areas in which they serve: "Efforts are taken to ensure individuals serve in areas close to their homes. More Kurds will serve in the areas in northern Syria. More Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley (ERV) and along the border with Iraq to the south."
This makes almost certain that the U.S. designated terror group PKK's Syrian armed YPG militia will be deployed to the Turkish-Syrian border, a move that will further increase tensions in the area as well as with Washington.
The Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Charge D'affaires Phil Kosnett on Wednesday following an Anadolu Agency report saying that a group of 400 fighters from the YPG-led SDF have been trained as border guards. The group, "named as the North Army by the PKK, was provided with technical training as well as military training and 'high-tech equipment,'" according to the report.
A curious part of the statement is that the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve, would deploy some of the border force along the Euphrates River Valley, a natural border with the Assad regime forces and the Russians.
"The Border Security Force will be stationed along the ERV to the west, along the Iraqi border to the southeast, and along the border with Turkey to the north. They will serve under the leadership of the SDF. They will be providing border security through professionally securing checkpoints and conducting counter-IED operations," the coalition added.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander Gen. Joseph Votel announced last month that they would establish border forces in Syria, which he said would help prevent the resurgence of Daesh.
On Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon refused to provide details of the training given to the so-called "North Army," but added that the Pentagon has maintained full accountability and transparency with the Turkish government over the aid granted.
"We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally," Pahon said.